The EVILs of Drugs, Addiction, and Art in “Bliss” reviewed!


Dezzy Donahue, a struggling Los Angeles artist, lives life ferociously with hard drugs and heavy drinking despite the cautionary advice of her quasi-boyfriend, Clive. Her current masterpiece falls behind on schedule and she hits a formidable creative block that results in being fired by her managing agent and with cash quickly dwindling, Dezzy’s losing the battle for inspiration that turns to an increasing narcotic intake surging through her system where any and all substances are fair game to explore. When she snorts a line of Diablo, a blissful, out of body experience drug, she finds herself in a rapturous three way with friend Courtney and her on-off side piece Ronnie that leave her with a post-high, post-sex altering inner body inexperience of opening the flood gates on her creativity to draw again as well as pang her with an insatiable need for a fix when no longer riding the high. Soon, Dezzy discovers the Diablo might not have been the drug that lit the fire inside her when a strong craving for blood becomes an inescapable addiction and a means to finally finish her greatest triumph work of art.

An audio/visual besieging rabbit hole shiplapped with braided beleaguering addiction and vampiric pathology in the stimulating aggressive, Joe Begos written and directed visceral horror, “Bliss,” set in the sordid Los Angeles metal scene. The “Almost Human” and “The Mind’s Eye” filmmaker hypnotizes on a stroboscope wave with his latest take on the vampire mythos with a drug-fueled, warmongering hell on a canvas tale of sex, drugs, and diabolical fiend cravings. Produced by Channel 83 Film, as are all of Bego’s works, “Bliss” is the director’s next notch up on the crazy, unrestrained belt that’s already garnished and weaponized with razor wire and three-inch cone spikes and while the story itself isn’t fashioned for originality, the way Joe Bego’s exfoliates the overripe garbage of rehashed formulaic filmmaking from the excessively strained eyeballs, sheepish with mawkish and dull stories, will be a new design to treasure as cult status.

Where’s “Bliss’s” 2019 nomination for best actress in a lead role!? Dora Madison seizes the performance of Dezzy Donahue by storm inside a role of careless abandonment that coils into viperous mode and lashes out with a deadly strike of unconventional fangs. Madison embraces the exotic Joe Begos route covered in blood, paranoia, and a sleazy shade of florescent neon and runs a willingness to express his mesmerizing vision with body cam harnesses. “Bliss” quickly establishes a hard-hitting tenor and Madison, whose credits include “The Loft,” “Night of the Babysitter,” and in the next upcoming Begos release, “VFW,” exacts a fortified layer of extreme sovereign, a do-what-I-want policy with a zero complaint department attitude, while stowing away what little hope and compassion Dezzy has in the forgotten corners of her plainspoken mind until the moment is too late to turn back. The story solely follows Dezzy’s perception of events as she encounters and reencounters characters before and after needing a junkie’s fix, an exaggerated play on an abusers volatile relationships. The cast affixed to roles of Dezzy’s vexing fix are Tru Collins, Rhys Wakefield (“The Purge”), Jeremy Gardner (“The Mind’s Eye”), Graham Skipper (“Carnage Park”), Chris McKenna (“King of the Ants”), Rachel Avery, Abraham Benrubi (“Wristcutters: A Love Story”), and that lovable “Cheers” regular, George Wendt.

At this point in the review, an overabundance of praise for Joe Begos’ “Bliss” has been logged by this reviewer, who is obviously a fan of the film, but more can be unquestionably explored. From previous reviews and comments I’ve come across regarding “Bliss,” a minority have displayed a disdain for the indistinct theme of drug withdraws and vampirism that resembles Abel Ferrera’s 1995 film “The Addiction,” but instead of being set in shadowy alleys of New York’s urban jungle, Bego’s relocates to the wayward esse of L.A. life. Perhaps Begos was inspired by Ferrera’s undiluted struggle and violence that makes “Bliss” a clone to “The Addiction’s” chief thread, but the film’s are artistically polar opposites. “The Addiction’s” black and white photography and slow-burn air tunes more into the story of the Shakespearian tragedy variety, especially when Christopher Walken provides lengthy life stance and coping monologues to establish his eternal dominance over Lili Taylor. “Bliss” proclaims a stimulus trip from the very beginning with a favorable thrashing metal soundtrack and an psychedelic filmic presence that comes with an opening epileptic warning. Both films compliment the figurative comparison for a fix in their own poetic ways and would make a fantastic double feature release or double bill midnight movie.

If this writeup has a jonesing affect, “Bliss” is cut and lined ready for blipping on an Umbrella Entertainment DVD home video presented by Dark Sky Films. The Channel 83 Films production is presented in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, being shot with a ARRI/ZEISS Super Speed Lenses, as credited on IMDB, that would explain the sharp image and stark contrasts on the colors. The visual perception of the seemingly humming-on-your-eyeballs neon lighting barely lets you experience the film in natural lightening during night scenes and only in the daytime that resembles the little normalcy left of Dezzy’s life, fade away with natural light the more she succumbs to blood cravings. “Bliss” feels and acts out like a 90’s film, slightly grainy for grindhouse seduction by way of shooting of actual film stock (35mm!), and forgoes the bubbly shine of perfection, coinciding damningly with Dezzy’s inner circle of sleaze, grime, and gore. The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound has a lot of kick and energy with a prevailing metal and punk/post-punk soundtrack feature Doomriders, Deth Crux, and Electric Wizard just to name drop a few. Dialogue is clean with an appropriate depth in the midsts of hard partying and live bands. Range is a little harder to discern since the soundtrack really is overpowering and dialogue sops up the remaining amount of audio track space, but when opted, the ripping of flesh and breaking of bones doesn’t disappoint. No subtitles are offered. Like many of Umbrella Entertainment’s standard releases, the single sided, singer layer DVD has no static menu or special features to offer other than the 80 minute runtime feature. “Bliss” is one coked-out, blood hungry hell of a vampire tangent from the norm that rectifies the optic and audible sanctuary for shock brilliancy to flesh out the Machiavellian in all of us.

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KdXU-n7qSg]

You want it, You need it, You desire it! Own “Bliss” today!

EVIL Drugs Zap the Sanity Out of Ya! “Dry Blood” reviewed!


Struggling drug addict, Brian Barnes, travels to his and his estranged wife’s cabin in a rural mountain community to force himself into isolated detox. He calls upon his friend Anna to assist with keeping him focused to sobriety. As soon as Brian arrives, temptation to score rears an ugly head and in his battle with withdrawal, Brian is frightened by his experiences with grisly, ominous phantoms in the cabin, a unhinged sheriff perversely following him, and the disassociation of linear time. He unwittingly falls into a mystery he doesn’t want to unravel as the occurrences of death and hallucinations intensify every minute within withdrawal and Anna doesn’t believe his frantic hysteria with ghostly encounters, but scared and unwell, Brian is at the brink of snapping, the edge of reality, and on the cusp of reliving his nightmare over and over again.

A harrowing insight into mental illness and abstaining from illicit drug use exaggerated by the overlapping of paranormal wedges of weird into the fold and Kelton Jones’s “Dry Blood” renders shape as a detoxing detrimental peak into exclusively being afraid and relapsing that also touches upon the idea of being afraid repeating relapse without consciousness. Under the Epic Pictures’ Dread Central Presents distribution banner, the Bloody Knuckles Entertainment production is of a few original horror films from a media leader in the horror community, leading an exposure campaign that might not have otherwise been possible. Not to say “Dry Blood” wouldn’t have metamorphosed from idea to realty by any means, but the DREAD line opens up films to a broader market, a bloodthirsty bandstand section of sometimes divisive and opinionated fans, who have seen, under the DREAD banner, an innovative horror lineup including “The Golem,” “Book of Monsters,” and “Terrifier.” “Dry Blood” fits right into the mix that’s sure to be a favorable side of judgements.

Clint Carney sits front seat as not only screenwriter but also the star of the film with Brian Barnes who tries to reclaim his self-worth and life from long time substance abuse. At the slight entreatment from director Kelton Jones, Carney has a better understanding of downtrodden Barnes character more than anyone and having some experience acting in short films, the writer naturally finds himself ahead of the pack on a short list of talent. However, though Carney has a modestly okay performance, the overall quality in selling Barnes as desperate, duplicitous, and genuine misses the mark, exacting a clunky out of step disposition as the character tries to figure the mystery that enshrouds him. Jones also has a role as the deranged sheriff who stalks Barnes like an overbearing, power monger cop who smells blood in the water. In his feature debut, like Barnes, Jones’ splashes a friendly, yet simultaneously devilish smirk spreading wide under a thick caterpillar mustache that adds another psychological layer in caressing Barnes’ madness. Barnes love interest, Anna, is found in Jayme Valentine and, much in the same regards to Carney, there were issues with her performance as the willing friend to be the support beam to Barnes. Valentine just didn’t have the emotional range and was nearly too automaton to pull Anna off as a person whose romantically unable to resist the addict but can manage to keep a safe distance away in order for both of them to benefit in his sobriety journey. “Dry Blood’s” casts out with some solid supporting performances by Graham Sheldon, Rin Ehlers, Robert Galluzzo (director of “The Psycho Legacy” documentary), and Macy Johnson.

“Dry Blood” is certainly an allegorical move toward the severe effects of withdrawal, even with the title that’s a play on words of a former addict staying dry during their difficult abstaining campaign, and with that symbolism, that ambitious ambiguity, to question whether or not Barnes is actually seeing these horrific images of disfigured bodies becomes open to audience interpretation of their own experience with substance abuse or their empathetic knowledge of it. Combine that individual experience aspect with some out-and-out, gritty moments of bloody violence, especially in the final sequences of Barnes careening reality, and “Dry Blood’s” simmering storyline ignites a volcanic eruption of unhinged blood lava that spews without forbearance. Those responsible for acute effects are Chad Engel and Sioux Sinclair with Clint and Travis Carney rocking out of the visual effects to amplify the scenes already raw and gore-ifying moments.

Epic Pictures and Dread Central Presents a paranoia, paranormal, psychological bloodbath of a production in “Dry Blood” and lands onto a hi-definiton, region free Blu-ray home video in a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, distributed by MVDVisual. The 83 minute presentation has a consistent, natural adequacy that delivers strong enough textures to get a tactile sense of the wood paneling of the rural mountain cabin and also the various materials in clothing and skin surface for easy to flag definition. Hues are potent when necessary, especially when the blood runs in a viscous red-black consistency. Darker, black portions have a tendency to be lossy and flickery at times, but nothing to focus on that’ll interrupt viewing service. The English language 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound has little to offer without inlaying a full size candy bar of action; instead, “Dry Blood” has bite-size appeal that would render okay without audio channel overkill. With that being said, dialogue doesn’t falter and there maintains an ample range and depth of sounds. Surprisingly, the build up of notating the soundtrack composed by System Syn left a disappointed aftertaste as the expectations of an industrial electronic, upbeat score was met only with a casual fling of the group’s spirit. Still, the soundtrack is a brooding horror melody which isn’t unpleasant…just not what was to be expected. Bonus material includes an audio commentary with Clint Carney and Kelton Jones, the making of “Dry Blood,” and teaser and theatrical trailer. Don’t be fooled by “Dry Blood’s” initial crawl approach as when the tide turns, addiction roles into hallucinogenic despondency and mayhem, and the blood splatters on a dime bag detox, “Dry Blood” will factor into being one of the better sleeper horror films of the year.

Dry Blood on Blu-ray! Purchase It By Clicking Here!

The Unspeakable Evil That Drugs Do to Your Body! “Red Krokodil” review!


“Krokodil is a homemade drug. It combines codeine, lighter fluids, gasoline, paint thinner, alcohol, and other ingredients.” This fast growing Russian street drug gnaws along the inner layers of one man’s insides and clawing its way out. Also, the drug deteriorates his mental stability, invigorating extreme hallucinations from his damaged cerebral equilibrium and manifesting faux body images of himself as well as inviting humanoid demons into his tattered reality. The powerful opioid, if fabricated haphazardly, induces prolonged and deathly ill effects, both physical and mental, and as his body has survived in a post-nuclear world, his mind is as much of a ramshackle as the rest of the world is in ruin. As he spirals down, out of control, through the opioid rabbit hole, he becomes only a shell of himself, transforming into the purest toxicity of the drug that creates alligator scale-like sores over portions of his body.

The need to put the definition of Krokodil” first and foremost, in front of the plot summary above, felt necessary. Director Domiziano Christopharo made it essential to do the same prior to the credits of his 2012 film “Red Krokodil.” To the average joe, the very mention of “krokodil” means nothing other than a seemingly skewed, alternate version of the English word crocodile, but the gore and shock director, best known for his debut work “House of Flesh Mannequins,” wanted the background behind the street drug to sink in, to be injected, to be snorted, and to be smoked before audiences continue with their trip through the breakup of the body. Based off a script written by Francesco Scardone, the Italian director had set the stage with his grippingly ghastly tale telling talents toward the dominion of body horror combined with ample psychological manipulation from substance abuse and while Christopharo is no David Cronenberg, the eclectic filmmaker cycles the story through a poetic flow with mostly an off-screen monologue approach that gives glimpses of a degenerative mindset.

Co-producer of the film, Brock Madson, also stars as the withering drug addict. There are hints Madson plays the character named Arthur, but the film only credits the character as simply him, and theoretically, that’s proportionate to the storyline staged as a post-apocalyptic world where it’s just him, ensnared and isolated. The role’s non-verbal role leaves Madson to go full-throttle in physicality with a semi-to-fully nude performance and he maintains an animated disconcerting fear and aloof glee whenever the moods start to swing. For most of the duration, Madson is solo, but a couple of minor characters, fabricated by his addiction, freakishly gloom over him. Viktor Karam, as the Bunny Man, and Valerio Cassa, as the Monster, positions themselves as enduring internal calamities that plague the Madson’s character.

“Red Krokodil” is laced with themes and symbolism, especially in a religious sense with the resurrection of Jesus Christ that parallels the trials and tribulations of the addict, mainly with going through the withdrawals. In order to save himself to be reborn, he must first sacrifice himself and Madson literally dons the crown of thorns and self-inflicts a stake through his feet. However, this self-crucification is all in his head, but when he awakes he’s able to ignore the heavily influential calls of the krokodil. Christapharo had kept the addicts apartment a dull, colorless prison, growing with filth and decay, but once the addict has saved himself, the room brightens, the outside sky has illuminated, and the near-death abuser has a little life left to be jovial, but to keep the grim themed tone against this man’s struggle to live through strife, Christapharo invokes false hope that ultimately becomes the addict’s concreted freedom from it all. The addict’s inner monologue goes through the steps how recovery, rekindling good memories from the past and wanting to not feel himself as it’s painful to feel your own skin be on fire from the corrosive drug, but rather be a personification of the wind, sun, water, or the grass, an element of the film that touches upon how humans mistreat the Earth much like they mistreat their bodies.

Unearthed Films and MVDVisual present “Red Krokodil” on a director’s cut, high definition, 1080p Blu-ray. Sporting a macabre, yet gorgeously illustrated cover, the release also has the same attributes in the image quality presented in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Like most film distributed by Unearthed Films, the grime and the disgusting reign as supreme and “Red Krokodil” has ample muck with bleeding orifices and an unappetizing uncleanliness about it, but the picture quality is clean and detailed with very little electrical interference. Color palettes, when the addict dreams to escape to nature, is a potent reminder that “Red Krokodil” isn’t just transmitting two-toned, gray and black, scale and displays exquisite landscapes. Even the computer generated Chernobyl like waste land of a city going up in an atomic fashion is well done with only a slightly glossy feel. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track broods with the ideal amount of LFE from composer Alexander Cimini that’s not acutely jarring, but still manages to showcase the detriment. Bonus material includes an alternate musical ending, deleted scenes, photo gallery, the CGI test of the nuclear explosion, teaser trailer, two theatrical trailers, and Unearthed Films tailer reels. “Red Krokodil” is a total out of body experience. Overwhelmingly brutal with muscular and mental breakdown, director Domiziano Christapharo’s indie picture of ill-effects of drug abuse has done what “Requiem for a Dream” has done for the mainstream with the matter-of-fact implication that manufactured street drugs are the purest evil that we could voluntarily do to sabotage ourselves.

Buy “Red Krokodil” from Amazon today!

Toe Tagged: Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip-Seymour-Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman. An actor who may not have contributed much to the genre of horror, exploitation, and experimental, but an actor who gave his all in every performance – A performance that inspired us, that excited, that enlightened us, and that taught us.

Philip Seymour Hoffman died at the age of 46 in his apartment from an apparent drug overdose. A friend found Hoffman in his New York apartment Sunday night with a needle in his arm and an enveloped fill with what police to believe was heroin.

I will always remember Hoffman from some of his more lesser known roles as Dusty Davis in Twister, Scotty J. from Boogie Nights, or Sandy Lyle from Along Came Polly. But others will remember Hoffman for his Academy Award winning performance as the titular character Capote, or the L. Ron Hubbard inspired character Lancaster Dodd from The Master, or as the game master Plutarch in The Hunger Game films.

We hope you find peace, Mr. Hoffman. You’ll be missed.